Moving excise goods as freight under the Northern Ireland Protocol from 1 January 2021

Guide

Last updated 18 December 2020

The Northern Ireland Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement is a practical solution to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland while maintaining Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market. Under the Protocol, Northern Ireland maintains some alignment with EU processes, including EU rules for excise goods.

This guidance is focussed on the movement of excise goods which may involve interaction with customs requirements.

You can find information on the customs requirements at the end of the transition period in the guidance for moving goods under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Excise movements within Northern Ireland

There will be no change to the rules relating to the holding and movement of excise goods taking place entirely within Northern Ireland.

For excise duty suspended movements you must still use the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS), unless specifically approved to use an alternative control system.

Northern Ireland excise traders will see some changes to EMCS.

Excise movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Movements of excise goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain will continue in much the same way as they do now.

You must use EMCS for excise duty suspended movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain unless specifically approved to use an alternative control system. For example, movements from a Northern Ireland warehouse to a warehouse in Great Britain should continue to be entered on EMCS as destination type code 1, and not as a destination type code 6.

Where excise goods are released for consumption in Northern Ireland on payment of the UK excise duty, there is no requirement to pay the excise duty again when goods are moved into Great Britain.

If you intend to move excise goods into Great Britain from the EU via Northern Ireland, read the guidance about moving excise goods as freight.

Excise movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

When you move goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland or vice versa, the Trader Support Service will guide you through any changes due to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Movements of excise goods from Great Britain directly to Northern Ireland will continue in much the same way as before, but there are some differences that will apply after the transition period.

For movements of UK excise duty paid goods
An excise duty charge arises when the goods enter Northern Ireland. However, you can off-set the excise duty already paid in Great Britain against this liability. In almost all cases this will result in no further excise duty being payable on entry to Northern Ireland.

Find detailed information on the excise duty off-set mechanism and what you need to do if you move UK excise duty paid goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

For movements of UK excise duty suspended goods from a tax warehouse in Great Britain to a tax warehouse in Northern Ireland
You must use EMCS unless specifically approved to use an alternative control system. These movements should not be treated in EMCS as destination type code 6. They should be treated as a movement to a tax warehouse (destination type code 1) unless you intend to end the duty suspended movement and pay UK excise duty on entry to Northern Ireland.

Domestic movements of motor and heating fuels

The rules related to the movement of motor and heating fuels wholly within the UK remain the same. This means it is not possible to move these products from one place in the UK to another (including between Northern Ireland and Great Britain) in excise duty suspension except in some limited circumstances (for example the movement of Special Energy Products to be used as feedstock or delivery to an export warehouse for removal from the UK).

Find more information on motor and heating fuels.

Excise imports and exports between Northern Ireland and the rest of the world

The process for importing excise goods into Northern Ireland and exporting goods from Northern Ireland to and from the rest of the world will remain broadly the same.

Find more information on the process for importing goods into and exporting goods out of the UK.

Excise movements between Northern Ireland and the EU not through Great Britain

Northern Ireland will maintain alignment with EU systems and processes for excise goods.

For excise duty paid goods, existing EU duty paid processes will continue to be available for movements between Northern Ireland and the EU. This includes the Simplified Accompanying Administrative Document (SAAD) and the HM4 process. Find more information about EU duty paid processes.

For excise duty suspended movements you must continue to move the goods between Northern Ireland and any EU member state using EMCS. You should do so in the usual way. All EMCS destination types will be available to you.

Excise movements between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU

As EU rules will no longer apply to Great Britain, including those covering the holding and movement of excise goods, movements of excise goods from Great Britain to the EU will be treated as imports and exports.

This means that you will not be able to move goods under excise duty suspension from the start to the end of their journey as a single movement in EMCS.

You will also not be able to move duty paid goods between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU under cover of a SAAD as EU rules will not apply in Great Britain.

The process for continuous movements of excise goods between the EU, Great Britain and Northern Ireland will vary depending on the route and the excise duty status of the goods.

As the UK has acceded to the Common Transit Convention (CTC), it will be possible for you to move excise goods between all parts of the UK and the EU in suspension of all duties and charges, including excise duty. Find more information about getting your business ready to move goods to the EU or Common Transit countries.

Alternatively, you can choose to move excise goods between any combination of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU as a continuous movement without the use of transit procedures if you follow the relevant excise and customs processes.

The customs and excise processes you need to follow for continuous movements of excise goods between the EU, Great Britain and Northern Ireland will vary depending on the route and the excise duty status of the goods.

Excise movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain via the EU

You can move excise goods in accordance with the rules for excise movements between Northern Ireland and the EU until the goods are exported from the EU.

If the goods are UK excise duty paid in Northern Ireland
You will not be able to claim drawback of the excise duty when the goods leave Northern Ireland. When the goods arrive in Great Britain, provided HMRC is satisfied that UK excise duty has been paid and a claim for drawback has not been made, no additional excise duty is payable.

If the goods are in excise duty suspension in Northern Ireland
If you move goods in excise duty suspension between Northern Ireland and Great Britain via the EU, the EMCS (destination type code 6) movement started in Northern Ireland will end when the goods leave the EU.

If you want to continue moving the goods in excise duty suspension on arrival in Great Britain, you will need to open a new duty suspended movement on EMCS via a registered consignor to cover the movement of the goods to the place of destination. Alternatively, you can pay the UK excise duty on arrival in Great Britain.

Find more information on the customs interactions when moving excise goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain through the EU.

Excise movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland via the EU

For UK excise duty paid movements
When the goods have been exported from Great Britain to the EU, drawback of the UK excise duty can be claimed.

As the excise goods are moving to Northern Ireland via an EU member state, on arrival in the EU you will need to declare the goods.

You will then have the choice of either moving the goods in accordance with EU duty paid rules or placing the goods into excise duty suspension.

If you choose to move the goods using EU duty paid rules you must pay EU excise duty in the EU member state of arrival and UK excise duty as their destination is Northern Ireland. Once the goods arrive in Northern Ireland you can claim reimbursement of the excise duty paid in the EU member state.

If you choose to place the goods in excise duty suspension after they leave Great Britain, you must use EMCS to control the movement from their arrival in the EU until their receipt in Northern Ireland at a tax warehouse or registered consignee.

On release from a Northern Ireland warehouse, the UK excise duty will be payable. If the goods are received by a registered consignee, the UK excise duty is payable on receipt.

Find more information on the new rules for duty stamps when moving excise duty paid goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland through Ireland.

For UK excise duty suspended movements
You will need to make 2 separate EMCS movements.

The first EMCS movement from the tax warehouse in Great Britain to the place of exit from Great Britain will be treated as an export to the EU (destination type code 6-using a Great Britain customs office of export). This movement will close when the goods are exported to the EU.

On arrival in the EU, you will need to place the goods under a second EMCS movement, from the place of importation to the tax warehouse in Northern Ireland (destination type code 1).

Find more information on the customs interactions when moving excise goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland through the EU.

Find more information on excise authorisations under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Excise movements from Northern Ireland through Great Britain to the EU

For excise duty paid movements
You must move the goods in accordance with the guidance for excise movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain until they are exported from Great Britain.

When the goods have left the UK (Great Britain), drawback of the UK excise duty paid can be claimed subject to the qualifying requirements. Find more information about excise duty drawback.

When the goods arrive in the EU, we expect you will be required to pay the excise duty applicable in the member state of arrival or place the goods into excise duty suspension using EMCS.

For excise duty suspended movements:
You will only need to make one EMCS movement, guaranteed by a Northern Ireland trader, to cover the whole journey. The goods can be dispatched from a tax warehouse in Northern Ireland to a tax warehouse in the EU, as currently.

Find more information on the customs interactions when moving excise goods from Northern Ireland to the EU through Great Britain.

Excise movements from the EU to Northern Ireland through Great Britain

For excise duty paid goods
EU processes will apply until the goods are exported from the EU.

When the goods arrive in Great Britain, they will move in accordance with the guidance for excise movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. UK excise duty must be paid, or the goods can be placed into excise duty suspension on entry to the UK.

For excise duty suspended goods
It will be possible for you to move these under cover of a single EMCS movement. The goods can be placed into EU duty suspension and move from the EU warehouse of dispatch to the Northern Ireland warehouse of receipt. You should familiarise yourself with any guidance issued by the EU.

On arrival in Great Britain, to remain in excise duty suspension you will need to make a customs declaration and declare the goods to Northern Ireland excise warehousing, with the Northern Ireland warehousekeeper of receipt acting as the consignor. Alternatively, you can pay the UK excise duty on arrival in Great Britain.

The goods can then continue to their destination in accordance with the guidance for excise movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Find more information on the customs interactions when moving excise goods from the EU to Northern Ireland through Great Britain.

Excise movements from Great Britain to the EU through Northern Ireland

For excise duty paid movements
You can move goods in accordance with the guidance for excise movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Once the goods enter Northern Ireland, you should move them in accordance with EU duty paid processes.

When the goods have left the UK (in this case when they leave Northern Ireland) a claim for drawback of UK excise duty can be made.

For excise duty suspended movements
Two EMCS movements will be needed to keep the goods in excise duty suspension for the entire journey.

The first will be the EMCS movement from the tax warehouse to the place of exit from Great Britain using destination type code 6.

On arrival in Northern Ireland, you will need to start a new EMCS movement (destination type code 1) from the Northern Ireland consignor to the destination in the EU.

Find more information on the customs interactions when moving excise goods from the EU to Northern Ireland through Great Britain.

Excise movements from the EU to Great Britain through Northern Ireland

For excise duty paid movements
For excise duty paid movements that start in an EU member state and pass through Northern Ireland as they travel to Great Britain, no UK excise duty will be payable as the goods pass through Northern Ireland.

On arrival in Great Britain, you will need to pay UK excise duty, or you can choose to place the goods into excise duty suspension in Great Britain.

For excise duty suspended movements
For excise duty suspended movements that start in the EU and pass through Northern Ireland as they travel to Great Britain, you will need to make 2 separate EMCS movements.

The first EMCS movement from the tax warehouse in the EU to the place of exit from Northern Ireland will be treated as an export from the EU (destination type code 6). The report of export will close the EMCS movement when the goods leave Northern Ireland.

When the goods arrive in Great Britain a registered consignor can place the goods in excise duty suspension by entering the goods onto EMCS or you can choose to pay the UK excise duty.

Find more information on the customs interactions when moving excise goods from the EU to Great Britain Northern Ireland.

EMCS

If you are classed as a Northern Ireland excise trader, you will be able to use EMCS for excise duty suspended movements to and from the rest of the UK and EU member states.

To facilitate this, a new ‘XI’ country code prefix will be introduced which will be used to create new excise IDs for the following operators:

  • warehouses
  • warehousekeepers
  • registered consignors
  • registered consignees - including temporary registered consignees
  • transporters
  • tax representatives
  • owners of goods in Northern Ireland

If you are classed as a Great Britain excise trader and you operate an excise warehouse in Northern Ireland, you will also see changes to your excise IDs. You will receive a new XI excise ID for your warehouse in Northern Ireland and a new GB excise ID for your warehouse in Great Britain. These new IDs will be linked to your new XI warehousekeeper identifier on the System for the Exchange of Excise Data (SEED).

If you are classed as a Great Britain excise trader who does not operate a warehouse in Northern Ireland, you will retain your existing GB excise IDs and will no longer be able to control movements to and from EU member states on EMCS but you can still use EMCS for movements within the whole of the UK.

There may be other circumstances where you need an XI excise ID. Find more information about changes to excise authorisations under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Excise duty drawback

Where excise goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain do not leave the UK, drawback of UK excise duty will not be available.

You will still be able to claim drawback of UK excise duty for excise goods that have not been consumed in the UK, on export from the UK.

If you export excise goods from the UK to another country and claim drawback of UK excise duty, if the goods re-enter the UK excise duty is payable again.

You can find more information on drawback of UK excise duty in Excise Notice 207.

EU rules on reimbursement of excise duty for goods moving between EU member states will apply to drawback claims made for goods that have left the UK via Northern Ireland. You should familiarise yourself with any guidance issued by the EU.

Find more information about excise duty drawback, as well as new rules for duty stamps and fiscal marks under the Northern Ireland Protocol.


First published 26 October 2020